Monday, July 20, 2009

Why Your World is About to get a Whole Lot Smaller

On the weekend a read a book by Jeff Rubin titled Why Your World is About to get a Whole Lot Smaller.

Unlike the many books published on how oil will run out and how we need to stop emitting carbon now, this book takes the approach of "it is happening so what is the impact of it". I like books that help me see the future (regardless of how good or bad that may be). It inspires thought.

The gist of the message is when the price of oil rises sharply (which the book suggests it will), we will become less global since the cost to travel and transport products will make it prohibitive to ship long distances. The price of oil will create an "oil tariff".

I believe that economics is the main driver of purchasing behavior. Some people will pay more to feel good but most will only change if the price is lower. So when oil prices soar, it will be cheaper to buy local produce, vacation locally, drive less etc. So in a sense, we go back to the old days. We may even see a resurgence of manufacturing in North America.

My brother, Glen, who loaned me the book, had commented that he wanted more data like how much more will an apple from New Zealand cost when the price of oil is X. Glen is a data person. I would have liked this too.

My other brother, Lyle, wrote a book "Small is Possible" that touts the benefits of the live local lifestyle. The two books mesh nicely in that Lyle says it is the way to go to feels good and be more sustainable and Ruben says economics will force us to act that way.

So this sort of says we might get back to the good old days and there will be a resurgence of local economies. What we do need to realize is that comes with a cost - we will pay more for goods. The reason the world went global was because it was cheaper and the reason it will return to local is for the same reason.


At 12:08 PM, Blogger Bonnie Story said...

I wish our infrastructure was set up for a smooth transition to good old days mode! I like to see the positive things in life and I agree that localization is a very positive development for people. A major highlight that I see is the return to connecting up with your neighbors. Americans don't tend to do that currently - you drive in and the garage door goes down, and that's it for neighborhood participation. I think that it does indeed "take a village" to survive the peak-oil lifestyle to come. Too bad that's what it took for us to realize that pulling together is where it's at, for so many reasons.

At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Monique Attinger said...

I'd actually "re-language" this as a new way to go forward, as opposed to going backward. Yes, we will regain a sense of our communities (which was something that we gave up that nourished humans in a way that typical "suburban" neighbourhoods do not), but we will also open up new ways of being and new opportunities for the truly entrepreneurial. Many people may not be well suited to "mass" entrepreneurship where they have to fight on a global scale, but are creative, industrious and entrepreneurial - and who will find that their small local business will thrive because people will need to buy things locally, rather than buy from abroad.

I think this is good news for those who love the planet too. The life chemistry of our planet has naturally sequestered carbon while humans have been wildly releasing it. Local energy, local economy and smarter / better technologies to mimic natural processes can put us back on the right track. High-priced oil will put us back on that track - to everyone's benefit.

I've been writing on this topic. You can find my article on Jeff Rubin's book at I've also got an article on sequestering carbon and how this puts us back in support of our planet's basic chemistry -


Post a Comment

<< Home